Last Sunday, the world’s attention focused on the U.S. Mexico border and a confrontation between Central American migrants in Tijuana and the U.S. Border Patrol. After the migrants approached the border fence en masse, and reportedly threw rocks at the Americans, Border Patrol agents responded by firing tear gas into the crowds of men, women and children.
The incident underscored the plight of thousands of migrants who’ve arrived in the border city in recent days, coming from such countries as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Some of the Central Americans are seeking formal political asylum in the United States, others say they want to go to the U.S. to find a job or to reunite with family members.
Although President Trump has characterized the migrants as dangerous invaders and ordered troops to the border to bolster security, the migrants say they pose no threat. They say they’re just trying to escape grinding poverty and soaring violence in their native countries.
As they try to find a way to get into the United States, whether legally or illegally, Tijuana has become a kind of lifeboat for the migrants, with many finding shelter and help in shelters opened by the city. KCRW spent two-days at one of the shelters talking to some of the newcomers to the border city. Below is some of what we saw and heard.